Page 45 Review by Stephen
Ive Svrocina produces some lovely lambent colours for Immonen's art which in the first of these fast-paced chapters alone delivers dinosaurs, space ships, dogfights with 'dactyls, a vast arena of death and many an exploding flight deck.
It is sleek, it is slick, it is sexy.
An artist whose cap carries many feathers, Immonen here is in shiny ALL-NEW X-MEN mode rather than the cartoon bomb of NEXTWAVE, SECRET IDENTITY's neo-classicism or RUSSIAN OLIVE TO RED KING's quiet if colourful restraint. He's basically delivering your epic STAR WARS space opera. He is quite the visual chameleon.
It's a very quick comic which accelerates from nought to warp in under a dozen pages then continues on much the same flight path and at spectacular speed, as our Empress and her entourage attempt to escape then stay out of the iron-fisted clutches of merciless King Morax.
At-a-glance menu, then we'll get to the meaty bits:
Implacable tyrant: big, burly and thriving on fear; a right old grumpy-chops with a sadistic smile.
Disillusioned Missus: miffed that life with said implacable tyrant hasn't turned out to be as exotic or erotic as it looked like from the other side of the bar she once served him in, although she has endured her love life long enough to sire...
Children, sundry: allegiances varied until fired upon by Daddy's Doberman Punchers. Even then, although younger Adam knows he'd have been butchered by his father sooner or later for being soft, his older sister Aine resents her mother's potential love-interest, one...
Captain Dane Havelok: loyal to miffed Missus, who effects swift departure from Terminal 5 (inter-planetary, non-domestic) before there's a domestic.
Result: much spluttering in soup etc.
Do you trust Mark Millar? You should by now.
This is the man responsible for KINGSMAN, JUPITER'S LEGACY, JUPITER'S CIRCLE, ULTIMATES, NEMEMIS, MPH, SUPERIOR, CIVIL WAR, AMERICAN JESUS, CHRONONAUTS, MARVEL 1985, SUPERCROOKS and so much more but, hey, that's what our search engine is for.
In our escapees' way he throws multiple obstacles including if not kith, then kin, and carnivorous monsters; stop-over planets whose weather conditions prove ill-conducive to their journey's resumption, an alien race called the Quez who are so money-minded they are prepared to lease out their own bodies to those gluttonous enough to want to go on an all-you-can-scoff, calorie-uncontrolled riot while the Quez keep their original bodies loose and limber; and King Morax's pitiless pursuit, executing anyone who's caught a glimpse of his family regardless of whether they attempted to impede their progress or reduce their life expectancy to milliseconds.
What Millar so cleverly does is introduce some of these elements (and more) early on so that by the time their true, fatal impact is felt, you've forgotten in what way they might pose a threat.
He does the same for elements which might prove the family's salvation, including one key skill, a clue to whose hiding he lets drop in such a manner that you will never see it coming but, once that reason for its sequestration is revealed, will give you the most enormous personal satisfaction. And it is - very personal.
Immonen is no slouch with spectacle, yet he excels particularly in his characterisation of younger brother Adam and older sister Aine. Aine shows early signs of a bullish obstinacy, her jaw jutting out in a profiled one-on-one confrontation with her mother, her eyes narrowed in an I'm-not-listening or letting-you-in defiance.
Technologically gifted Adam, meanwhile, shows unexpected resilience in the wake of adversity and spies opportunity where others would see junk, but when - in spite of their combined best efforts - things spiral combustibly out of anyone's control, his bitten lower lip is so taut that you can almost feel it stretched to tearing.
As to the blue-bearded Captain Havelok, every valiant gallant should be immaculately equipped, and his hair never once lets anyone down.
Have a peak under the dust jacket for an extra gold-foiled thrill.